Interview with Frederick Sabty, Vice President, Hospitality for Avaya Worldwide
Aug 22, 2017
As part of my continuous coverage of the digital journey in the hospitality space, I recently had the opportunity to be briefed by Mr. Frederick Sabty, Vice President of Hospitality for Avaya, on the company’s multiple solutions and future roadmap for this vertical.
Aside from the detailed briefing and different case studies provided by the Avaya team, I had the chance to interview Mr. Sabty and ask him about the general status of the hospitality market in terms of communications and collaboration adoption, as well as Avaya’s continuous role in this vertical.
This interview took place right after Avaya took critical steps to emerge from Chapter 11, with growing likelihood that the company will soon come out of this status financially more stable and focused on key growth areas.
Here follow some highlights from my conversation with Mr. Sabty:
How is Avaya's hospitality team structured today? Is hospitality still one of the key verticals for the company given its historical footprint in the space?
Avaya is focused on multiple verticals, but one of the main ones is the hospitality sector. You will see in the next months a lot of innovation and products launches in this vertical. Hospitality is an overlay on the product groups, with marketing and sales components. In sales, the account managers are naturally spread across the globe where they report to the regional sales leads as well as via dotted line to me.
When we speak about the adoption of enterprise communications and collaboration solutions, where do hospitality entities stand? Are there notable differences among regional theaters and size of the entities?
Adoption is slow in the hospitality sector as many are still focused only on basic telephony. Hampering the innovation is that many vendors push the technology, yet forget the most important aspect which is the guest experience. This is a global trend. North America and the Middle East are setting the pace, probably because there seem to be more large developments in these areas. Forward-looking hotels are realizing that communications systems are more than just the phone in the room. They include room entertainment, WiFi, on location sales, mobile connectivity, back-office communications, reservations, IoT, etc. When they see how the newer communication and collaboration systems can have a positive effect across their whole business, adopting the newer technology becomes an easy step.
What are the key evolving trends impacting the hospitality space in terms of communications and technology?
The guest experience continues to drive new technology adoptions. In the future we will see more integration, especially with IoT devices and services. We also think that data security will become paramount, and block chain will become a leading technology in that area.
Are hotels gradually moving to cloud communications? Which types of entities are moving first?
Yes, gradually. They would like to, they have tried, and some are reverting back as some countries are not ready for cloud offerings. The first ones are the international brands.
Cloud is an operational decision, and has little to do with the guest experience or back-office efficiencies. That’s why we offer a range of CPE, cloud and hybrid. Innovative hotels and resorts look for ways to stand out, or create efficiencies.
Laggards that sweat their equipment for many years think they are saving money, but are actually missing out on the upside that comes with the newer platforms such as Oceana, Breeze, Equinox and IP Office.
How is Avaya adapting its product and solution offerings to these evolving trends?
We tend to drive the trends more than adapt to them. Avaya has never stopped developing. The ease of deployment, full and complete product line, open development environment, integrations with third-party platforms, and adding specific analytics (data is the new oil as we explained in the presentation) are all evidence of where the market is going. We have even opened our SDK to all the developer in this sector to be innovative with us.
Although the hospitality industry has been described as laggard in terms of enterprise communications and collaboration adoption when compared to other industries, are you seeing more interest from hoteliers for new solutions such as Avaya Zang, Equinox, Breeze, and Oceania? Can you provide us with concrete examples?
Avaya Zang is a pure cloud offering. Equinox is a multichannel communication which is well positioned for back-of-house communications. Breeze is a game changer for the industry sector, it’s an open extensible platform on which we build our tools. Oceana, the multichannel call center platform built on top of Breeze, has revolutionized the way hotels and resorts can communicate with their guests.
A very large Las Vegas resort used bBreeze to create a tight integration with their billing system. This worked so well that they calculate the ROI for the complete system is less than 2 years. Now they are using Breeze to create exemplary guest experiences at all of their properties because “it’s free”.
Besides the aforementioned solutions, what other products and services Avaya is successfully selling into the hospitality space?
Guest Experience surrounding the guest 360 and not complicating his stay. While the larger resorts tend to adopt the enterprise-level solutions such as Equinox, Oceana and Breeze, smaller properties have seen a lot of uptake for IPO Office and to a lesser extent, Zang.
In general, what differentiates Avaya from other enterprise communications vendors in this particular segment?
Avaya’s open platform is unique. It allows us to adapt to all existing customer applications, such as the PMS of their choice. We have a huge installed base and years of experience, so we’ve can handle any design from 10 to 10,000 rooms. Our hybrid architecture means we can cover multiple sites, with secure and resilient deployments. And our full range of solutions and partners means we can supply exactly what the hotel needs.
Avaya has been providing solutions to more than 2,500 hotels worldwide and has existing relationships with most of the largest hotels in the world. While different Avaya customers still run legacy systems, more hotel facilities are migrating to the company’s latest business communications and collaboration portfolio. Today, public and confidential case studies abound, with customers praising Avaya for improved customer service, increased productivity, reduced technology costs, and network scalability.
Having a strong vision of a smart digital world and understanding the evolving needs of hoteliers around the globe, Avaya never stopped innovating in spite of existing financial and structural challenges. Today, advanced solutions such as Avaya Oceania, Equinox, Breeze, Zang, and Vantage, in addition to a stack of well-consolidated IP platforms such as Avaya Aura and IP Office, continue to set the company as one of the few vendors able to offer a full range of customizable, user- and workflow-centric communications and collaboration solutions in the hospitality industry.
Mohamed Alaa Saayed
Please add your bio info through your member profile page, or through your dashboard.